There are a variety of small mammals that people decide to keep as pets, including hamsters, gerbils and even hedgehogs! However, what about Chinchillas? Chinchillas can make fantastic little pets and can be a great addition to any family. 

As with any pet, their care should not be underestimated and they should always be given the best level of husbandry. Let’s have a look at Chinchillas and see why they make good pets and what care they require.

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They have a longer than average life span

Chinchillas are in it for the long run, as their lifespan varies between 10 – 20 years! When you compare this to a rat or a hamster, who has an average lifespan of around 2 years, a Chinchilla allows you to have them as a family member for a substantial amount of time.

This is a bonus if you’re wanting to introduce a pet for your child to grow up with, but you don’t want to commit to a cat or a dog. Just ensure that you understand that you will have a Chinchilla for years to come.

They have a longer than average life span

This is a massive plus in the small mammal world. If you compare the smell of Chinchillas to rats or ferrets, it is pretty much non-existent! Rats and ferrets have a very distinct smell that can be described as musky and sometimes pungent. 

As long as you keep on top of cage hygiene, you shouldn’t need to worry about your Chinchilla leaving a distinct odour in your home.

Chinchillas are affordable

Everyone’s financial situations are different, especially during the current cost of living. However, once you have the initial set up for a Chinchilla, they don’t tend to cost much more money. Food and bedding is relatively cheap and affordable. However, make sure to put some money aside for any veterinary visits. 

They bond well with humans

Chinchilla’s actually create strong bonds with their owners. Chinchillas can have the ability to recognise their owners, as well as being able to differentiate their voices. Once they see you, your Chinchilla can often greet you at the front of their enclosure.

Chinchillas love to play!

Chinchillas are highly inquisitive creatures and love to get involved and play with their owners. Ensure that their enclosures contain plenty of toys, hides, swings and tunnels in order for them to keep entertained. 

Basic Chinchilla Husbandry

Enclosure 

Chinchillas require a lot of space as they love to run, jump and perform a variety of acrobats in their enclosures. Ideally, the more space that you can give them the better! A minimum cage requirement should be no smaller than 4ft x 4ft x 3ft, and ideally much bigger.

A variety of beddings can be used but make sure that they are dust extracted. Fleece bedding can also be used as it is more eco friendly and can be washed. A sand bath should also be provided for your chinchilla to use as a way of grooming their coats.

Diet 

Chinchillas should be offered a high fibre diet in order to support their digestive system as well as keeping their teeth in good condition. A chinchilla’s teeth are continuously growing and their diet helps to wear them down. Chinchillas should be offered:

  • Good quality hay: Hay should make up the majority of a chinchilla’s diet. Hay should be accessible at all times. Hay racks can be used to keep the enclosure tidy.
  • Pellets: Chinchillas should be fed pellets that consist of grass. A small amount can be offered in addition to hay.
  • Fresh foods: Plenty of leafy greens can be offered to your chinchilla along with vegetables such as carrot, celery and potato.

Social needs 

Chinchillas are naturally sociable and in the wild they live in large groups of up to 100 individuals! Ensure that if you are keeping a male and female together and you do not plan on breeding them that you castrate the male chinchilla. Otherwise, pairs of the same sex get on well together.

Final thoughts on Chinchillas

Chinchillas have a lot of aspects that make them great family pets and it can be really beneficial for children to grow up alongside their chinchilla’s. If you need any advice about chinchilla care, always speak with your veterinary practice for further help.

Further reading:

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